The Catholic Church of the Beatitudes has announced a rather unusual series, which began Sept.12 and will run for 13 weeks, at First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara. It’s not quite what you would expect from a traditional Catholic parish ... but then, we are not your typical Catholic parish. It’s all about care of the hearts and souls of those going through separation and divorce.
Disclaimer: The author of this column (E.G.) is the one who proposed and is coordinating this fall series of workshops, based on her first-hand experience. It’s a peer-to-peer outreach. You are welcome to join us even after our initial September meetings.
I am hoping that if you are in pain over a separation or divorce, you will join us and begin to develop the tools and skills you need to move on and regain hope and self-esteem. There really can be light at the end of the tunnel! DivorceCare changed my life at a time when I thought my life was just about over.
What qualifies me to lead this group? How about experience — the best teacher! After many, many years of marriage, my father strayed and my parents divorced. My mother was in her 40s. The only job that she ever had was modeling in New York before she was married. She had no college education. Her only real work experience was keeping house and raising children.
I saw how devastated my mom was, and why she felt that her world was crashing in on her. She was an active member at the local Catholic Church, but that turned out to be of no help whatsoever, despite the many times we had the parish priest over for dinner or a barbecue and swim on the weekends. Once the divorce occurred, that same parish priest would no longer give her communion or visit our house. Her “church friends” suddenly vanished. She was alone in so many ways.
Many years later I found myself in that very same situation. After my husband’s affair, I became so depressed that I could not get out of bed. I had absolutely no self-esteem left. In my self-perception, I was neither pretty enough nor smart enough to keep my husband’s interest. Every plan that I had for the future was gone. I could only see myself spending the rest of my life ALONE!!
A few months later I was very blessed to see an advertisement for DivorceCare. It took everything I had to enter the door, but within minutes I felt accepted and safe. There were about 20 people in the group, most in similar situations, all hurting and alone. The class began with a 40-minute video titled “What’s Happened to Me?” narrated by experts in their field.
Afterward, we sat in a circle and shared our feelings about the video, relating it to our own situation. We met for 13 weeks and covered many topics. including:
» Facing my anger
» Facing my loneliness
» New relationships
I made many dear friends through this group. Five years later, we still check in with one another on a regular basis. We have an annual Christmas party to celebrate the fact that we all made it through those very tough times.
If you, a family member or a friend is going through a divorce or separation, let them know that a support group with real Christian values is available here in Santa Barbara to help them through this difficult time in their lives.
If you are not sure whether you want to come, come anyway! You don’t have to be part of our church community!
The Catholic Church of the Beatitudes's DivorceCare program meets from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at First Congregational Church, 2101 State St. in Santa Barbara. Registration is $15, with scholarships available. Click here for more information.
— E.G. is a member of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, which celebrates Mass at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays at First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara, 2101 State St. Click here for more information, or call 805.252.4105. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.